18 Jun 2020

Grassroots campaigns in the post-print era

In the wake of Newscorp’s decision to ditch suburban and regional print titles in favour of online mastheads only, inevitable questions arise as to how affected communities will consume their local and regional news.

While some lament the loss of the local rag, others are more optimistic in the power of the internet to share community updates, celebrate local heroes and provide a forum for debate on the topics and challenges that impact local communities.

So, can organisations or brands still undertake a grassroots campaign to educate or canvass the interest and support of locals? The answer is yes, but with some changes.

A new era of grassroots thinking 

At the heart of community news is a good story. And at the core of a good grassroots campaign is connection – with local and regional audiences across print, social, online and digital platforms.

The most effective education and awareness campaigns rely on an authentic connection with a person, a family, a case study – a story which shines a light on important health, social, environmental, ideological and financial issues.

A story that informs, cautions, illuminates, urges action will always resonate across relevant audiences. How and where we share brand stories and messages will always evolve. When media morphs, we adapt. As do our approaches and strategies.

Traditionally, a grassroots campaign sows its narrative seeds within a predominantly print landscape designed to have stories land directly in the letterboxes of the intended audience.

The grassroots campaign has its foundations in political advocacy and social responsibility. Part of its success lies in the organic growth of a story, a key message or a strong call to action, even more palpable in today’s COVID environment witnessing greater visibility of collective consciousness and social movements.

Its cost-effective nature also makes it popular among marketing, PR sectors and political campaigners. It ticks a lot of boxes. The grassroots approach is driven by audience and intent and sees campaigns take off across discussion forums, social communities, digital news sites, regional radio and TV. Posts are shared, news stories are syndicated helping to generate discussion, prompt debate and urge action across multiple media platforms.

Going digital 

Amplifying your message via the grassroots route is a very effective way to execute your next education or awareness campaign. Here are some key considerations when delivering within digital landscapes:

  • Lean into regional data: Relevant regional data will resonate across digital news sites particularly now with dailies and metros looking for more regional content
  • Engage with group editors, regional influencers and digital only journalists: approaching these targets with regional content including latest market data, trends, quirky research and compelling case studies will increase engagement opportunities for your brand story
  • Connect with online community groups: growing your message across the proliferation of social and online communities around the country is key. Sydney’s In The Cove has over 15,000 followers and calls itself a hyperlocal website powered by citizen reporters making Lane Cove a better informed, engaged and active community. Berry’s Community Facebook page has over 3,000 followers and offers tips and local what’s on for members of that community.
  • Increase visual content: quality images, clips and infographics will boost share-ability of your story particularly across social, online and digital media
  • Reach out to regional radio and TV: Local TV crews are leaner but still looking for relevant content via zoom or onsite locations. Offering ABC and community radio interview opportunities helps grow your messaging via expert opinion and increases talkability

Going back to basics with a grassroots campaign harnesses the intrinsic urge for communities to connect. Moving forward, this tried and tested engagement technique will prevail (with a digital twist) to communicate and engage with Australians at a local level.

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